Friday, May 22, 2009

Acrylic and Watercolor Spring 09 Classes

Acrylic and Watercolor Classes.

We have finished our Spring semester with flying colors! Everyone did such a great job in both classes you guys must have a great teacher some place ;-) The art you brought in for critique was really great. Good job everyone.

I’m sorry I forgot to post the notes on creating dimension from the week before, I didn’t think about it until Sunday night and that was a bit late, I will post it now so you can review it during your time off. All the posts are available if you look in the archives, btw, that is why I put them on the internet so you can find answers if you need them.

I do want to remind you that if you want to take classes this summer you need to sign up ASAP. I know that there is a month between the end of the spring classes and the start of the summer ones, but the office needs to know who is taking what so they know what classes to close. If you don’t want your classes to close – mine or any of the others you take or were thinking of taking - you need to sign up as soon as you can and encourage your neighbors and friends to take classes too. Torrance has a great art program and we really need to do what we can to keep it afloat. For more information please go to the Torrance web site and click on classes:

The lesson on giving objects in your painting dimension was basically the same for both the acrylic and watercolor classes so I will just go over the basics here, the key is using your full range of values from dark to light.

If you have ever taken a photography class you have probably heard the teacher say that the best time to take pictures is before 11 a.m. or after 2 or 3 p.m. because of the angle of the light creates shadows that give interest to your subjects, the shadow angles and how they fall on things around them can make a so-so photo into a very interesting picture. The same is true when you paint. Those lights and darks bring interest as well as dimension to your art and play an important roll in the over all composition.

On my bucket I chose light coming in from the upper left. What this means is the left outside of the bucket will have highlights and the right will be in shadow, however, the inside will be the opposite because the wall of the bucket blocks the light in the left inside of the bucket but the light falls on the right inside of the bucket. (See photo). I know it sounds confusing so look around to find examples on your own – flower pots, cups, glasses, pots – really observe what is going on with the light.

The key to getting an object to have dimension is using the full range of value: You need some light highlights and dark shadows. I heard one artist say that you need to have at least 5 changes in value but the more changes in value you can put into your painting, the more realistic you painting will become, adding more interest and excitement. Think about this when you are painting and how you can get those value changes to work for you.

On the bucket, starting from the left side I have my brightest highlight, my light area, a transition area (it’s going away from the light), a medium dark form shadow, a dark form shadow and a reflected highlight. You should all know by now what a highlight and shadow are but you may not know what a form shadow is compared to a cast shadow and what the heck is a reflected highlight? They are very important to your painting.

First on the list is a FORM SHADOW. A form shadow is exactly as it sounds the shadows on the objects that give them form in your painting. It usually isn’t as dark as a CAST shadow because of all the light that bounces around living here on Earth, light is scattered by the molecules and particles in our air and is usually scattered into the form shadows and that is where the REFLECTED HIGHLIGHT comes in the last light to be absorbed is the blue violet range, adding a touch of this color to your darkest form shadows makes the subject come alive. It is also perfectly okay to add other colors into the shadows especially of other objects that may be close by and reflecting light, just keep these colors subtle. A CAST shadow is usually darker than a form shadow because it is blocking the light and it is darkest just under and close to the object. As it moves away, it too gets scattered light bouncing through it so it will get lighter, just remember that all shadows are in the cool range of colors – blues and purples – look for these examples in your daily life, don’t take my word for it, you need to know it is true.

These are the things I keep in mind when I am painting regardless of medium. I am posting a pastel I won a prize with so you can see how understanding light and shadow can work for you. Most of you will look at it and see a white crane, look again. There is very little actual white on the bird at all, it is mostly blues and purples yet you know it is a white bird. Note the reflected highlight on the chest and underside and that only across the shoulders a, top of his head and a few feathers on his back are actually white.

I hope that everyone uses the time off to practice what we have done in class. If you are going on a vacation (I envy you) the same principals apply to your photographs as they do to your painting, though I will mention that if you are thinking of using your pictures for reference, take a series of pictures. Start with a wide overall photo from different angles, then move/zoom in. If you can take close-ups or detail photos it will give you a great reference when you are doing the actual. How many times have you squinted at a photo wanting to know what was going on in a certain area? Take the picture while you are there and you won’t have to guess. Most of all, have a great time and I will see you when you get back all ready and charged up for the new semester!

I will post here any updates for class any need to know things if I hear them regarding registration and when we get close, I will post info on the class project. Summer 09 is landscapes. If you come up to the PV Art Center in June, I will be featured artist in the Artist Studio gallery, I will be showing some of my animal paintings in acrylic and pastel. See ya all soon.

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